tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN November 14, 2013 11:00am-1:01pm EST
this law three and a half years ago. we kept waiting for the republican plan. the honest answer is they had none. apparently they still don't. the reason they don't is they fall back and say let the marketplace decide. well, many of us know the marketplace in health care personally. we know a marketplace that has turned away 40 million to 50 million people who are uninsured in america. people who still get sick, still go to the hospital, and whose bills are paid by everyone else. the republican party is supposed to be the party of responsibility and rugged individualism. what about the responsibility that we all have if we can afford it to have health insurance and as a country to provide the means for those who can't afford it so they can have protection too? that to me is responsible. trying to just stop this reform is irresponsible. when you get into the specifics on the affordable care act, you never hear a republican senator come to the floor and make a
case against the specifics. you know why? they can't. is there a republican senator who will come to the floor and defend the right of a health insurance company to turn down a person or a family because of a preexisting condition? that's the situation we faced when we passed the affordable care act. theris there a family in america that doesn't have someone with a preexisting condition? most families do. my family has in the past and does now, too. and preexisting conditions can range from the very, very serious to things which are chronic and manageable, from asthma and diabetes to cancer survivors. the list is long. the affordable care act says you cannot turn down a person in america for health insurance because of a preexisting condition. the republicans say they want to repeal that, they want to go back to the day where you can
turn down a person because of preexisting condition, then have the courage to come to the floor and say it. they won't. the bill also says, the law also says you can't limit the lifetime payout on a health insurance policy. there were a lot of people who thousand a hundred thousand dollars was a lot of money for incomhealth care until they goto a serious situation. one accident away, one sickness away that will wipe that out. so we wrote there can be no lifetime payout on an insurance policy. the republicans say they want to change it. i challenge any republican senator to come to the floor and explain that one. did you know as well, mr. president, that of the family policies sold in america, 60% of the family policies did not cover maternity benefits?
we require the coverage of maternity benefits. now, let me tell ya, my wife and i are not in a situation where we're likely to ever use those personally, but we happen to believe that it's a good thing across america and it's a family-friendly thing across america to make sure that policies cover maternity. those who talk about family values and love of family and love of babies and children, why in the world wouldn't you want to include that protection in all family policies? spread the risk across the population but make sure every family can afford to have prenatal care for a healthy baby and a healthy mom when that blessed event arrives. i'm waiting for the first republican to come to the floor and say, that's a bad idea, too. incidentally, health insurance policies used to discriminate against certain groups, particularly women. we said, that's over. you can't discriminate against women and treat them different differently. you've got to be fair in the allocation of this risk and you
can't use gender as a basis for increasing the cost of a policy. the republicans want to repeal that. i'm waiting for the first republican senator to come to the floor and say, health insurance policies, because of the free market, should be allowed to discriminate against women. that's a reality. the other thing we provided in the affordable care act, finally families with children coming out of college, looking for a job can keep their kids on their health insurance policies to the age of 26. we don't know exactly how many are helped by this. some estimate 300,000-plus young people still on their family's policies. why is that a good thing? because a lot of young people coming out of college don't find a job right away, and some that do may not have a full-time job or benefits. if you've ever been a mom and dad -- and i've been in that circumstance as a father, where i called my daughter and i said, jennifer, do you have health insurance? dad, i don't need it. i'm healthy.
you know? those are the things that keep you up at night. the affordable care act provides additional protection for these young americans who are just starting out in life and trying to find a job. the republicans want to repeal it. i'm waiting for the first republican senator to come to the floor and make that case. oh, we should make sure that young people in their 20's don't have health insurance. that's the result if you repeal the affordable care act. and what about senior citizens? medicare prescription part-d provides prescriptions so senior citizens can stay healthy, independent and strong for as long as possible. and the problem we had, of course, was something called the doughnut hole. it meant out-of-pocket expenses seniors had to pay for their prescriptions. we are closing and filling the doughnut hole so that seniors aren't giving up their life savings in order to have the prescription drugs they need for a healthy life. they want to repeal that. they want to repeal the affordable care act. i'm waiting for the first
republican senator to come to the floor and say seniors ought to pay more for their prescription these need under medicare, because that's the result of repealing the affordable care act. now, let me just also say this. life experience tells us several things. first, premiums on health insurance go up with some frequency. we're trying to slow down the rate of growth but they've been going up for a long time. in some markets, for example, when it comes to individual policies people are buying, those have gone up rather dramatically, sometimes 15% a year for a long period of time. secondly, in that market of individuals buying health insurance, 67% of those policies are canceled every two years. so now they come to the floor and tell us stories about premiums going up and cancellations. can i remind my friends on the republican side that's been going on for a long, long time. now they blame every
cancellation on the affordable care act. they blame every premium increase on the affordable care act. that's just not factual. it's not true. let me tell you some mail i've received on the subject. here's an e-mail from a constituent i'd like to read. in illinois, here's what this constituent writes. "as a lifelong republican, i am absolutely appalled by the extremists who have hijacked my party and i'm thoroughly ashamed of all the attempts to defund president obama's health care act. already my medical costs have dropped due to early provisions of the act, and if it passes and becomes law, it appears i'll save $6,000 a year on my premiums, health insurance premiums. i realize that not everyone shares my enthusiasm for the health care bill, but i want to make two comments. when the act is broken down into its component parts, polls consistently show that american people agree with the program. secondly, all i'm asking is that we give it a fair trial, give it a fair chance, say, two years.
of course it will need tweaking and revising. but if it doesn't work, then we can repeal it after two years. quite frankly, obstructionists are a public embarrassment to those of us who grew up with a different republican party that cared about people and was not madly trying to exclude as many as possible through hateful bigotry and racism. this is too important to let it fail. i stand with the president and the democrats on this issue and hope that you'll do everything in your power to see the health care act remains in force." now take a look at what's going on out in this country there. have been senators from states that have come to the floor, and i'll use as an example, the senators from the commonwealth of kentucky, both of whom have come to the floor and called for the repeal of the affordable care act. well, let's take a look at the numbers, with a flawed start-up, which i'll readily concede, what is going on in the state of kentucky? in the state of kentucky, 76 -- this is according to "the washington post" -- 76,294 people have already submitted
completed applications under the new health care law. 39,207 are eligible to enroll in a plan. and as of this date, 5,586 have selected a plan. kentucky is leading on a per capita basis many other states, some larger, some smaller, kentucky is leading while its two senators come to the floor and rail against the very health care law that the people of kentucky apparently need and want and are exercising their right to choose. i want to salute governor basheer in kentucky. he stepped up and said get out of the way. if you don't want to help kentuckians to get health care then get out of the way. we're going to give them a chance, and he's doing it. other states fighting the president, fighting congress tooth and nail. they aren't going to cooperate at all. and we wonder why the start-up has been slow? without that cooperation, it makes it more difficult. i'm not making any excuses for the web site. it's got to be improved. it's got to be better.
and it will be. take a look at that experience in massachusetts. the senator from california talked about that earlier. during the first month of enrollment in massachusetts, 123 people signed up. in the first 30 days. by the end of the year, though, 36,000 had signed up. the number of uninsured young people went from 25% to 10% within three years. massachusetts today, because of the leadership of governor mitt romney and the cooperation of the democratic legislature in that state, has nearly universal health insurance coverage. however the roll-out wasn't without some problems, just as ours s. thours is. the current governor said there were a series of web site problems. he also said the web site was a work in progress for the first few years. there were outages during peak times and problems searching for providers. i recently met with a doctor from boston. he's one of the best. he said, people in massachusetts can't remember what it was like before.
they can't remember what it was like before people had health insurance. this doctor is an oncologist. he deals with people who are diagnosed with cancer. he had a 19-year-old woman come into his office before they had this version of the affordable health care act in the state of massachusetts. and he said to her, we can cure you but we've got to really do this aggressively. it's going to take chemo, it's going to take radiation, and it's going to take surgery. this 19-year-old young woman said, please, don't tell my parents. i can't afford to pay for this. if they hear this, they're going to mortgage their home to pay for my medical care and i don't want them to do it. well, the parents learned and the parents made the decision and they mortgaged their home and their daughter's life was saved. this oncological doctor, this cancer doctor said to me, senator, i've never run into another case like that since massachusetts passed its affordable health care law, since people have basic insurance and basic protection.
the life-and-death choices that people make every single day should be front and center here and not the political squabbles that have become the trademark of this town. we've got to understand that there are hardworking people across america who have no health insurance. there are families with people with preexisting conditions who can't get a decent policy. they're going to be given their chance. we'll be a better america for it. and i would say to the republican critics, after this is in place, after thousands maybe even millions of americans have signed up, you're not going to take it away. they're going to fight to keep it and i'm going to stand by them in that fight. to make sure that they have supporters and champions on the floor of the senate. mrs. boxer: would the senator yield through the chair for a couple questions? mr. durbin: i would be happy to yield for a question. mrs. boxer: first, can i thank you so much, i'm so glad you're here, and i see the senator from colorado is here as well. it's so interesting to see republican senator after republican senator come down here to focus on one of the problems we're having and are
going to fix. and not one of them touched any of the issues that you spoke about or i spoke about or the senator from connecticut, which is the broad look at what we were facing when we passed the affordable care act, the benefits that have gone into place that are saving our families from bankruptcy and saving lives. and i know my friend was very clear on this. and -- and i think when you said, senator, that to see this become all about politics is something that is so wrong. we all know there's time for politics and you and i, we're into that, we understand that. there is a time and place. there's also a time and place to put that aside and help our families. and i wanted to ask my friend a couple of questions. do you not remember, as i do, that years ago, as we were facing a crisis in health care in this nation before the
affordable care act, that we found out from constituents over and over that their insurance company would walk away from them just at the time that they got sick? they thought they had a policy, like some of our people think they have good policies that don't meet the standards, but when they got sick, i remember constituents saying they'd get a call saying, you know, back five years ago, you didn't mention the fact that you once had high bloop blooblood pressure. we're sorry, we're can canceling your policy. does my friend remember that? and does my friend remember learning, as i did with shock, that being a woman was really a preexisting condition, for example, if you were a victim of abuse as a woman, they said you were too much of a risk and they turned you away? does my friend remember just those two problems before we tackled the affordable care act? mr. durbin: i thank the senator from california. responding through the chair, there was a time, as a member of congress and as a senator, when
this was a normal request, people would call your office and say, i'm at my wit's end. my health insurance company won't cover the problems that my family faces. can you make a call to an insurance executive? and we have. almost to a person, members of the house and senate have done it, trying advocate to get them to open up coverage under a health insurance policy. that was the reality. and, frankly, many of these health insurance companies, any excuse would do. they would disqualify people on preexisting conditions because as an adolescent the insured ha acne. acne. a preexisting condition. subject to disqualification. well, i see the senator from colorado's on the floor and i want to yield him some time. i thank my colleague from california for coming forward. i just hope at some point the republicans who are so adamant about repealing and ending obamacare, as they call, it or the affordable care act would have one good idea on their own about providing affordable
health insurance for the people across america. we all share that responsibili responsibility. and i yield the floor. mr. bennet: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from colorado. mr. bennet: mr. president, i will first say to the presiding officer what a joy to the see now that chair and welcome to the united states senate. i wanted to talk today about the drug quality and security act for a few minutes because at this moment of dysfunction in -- in the congress, we are at the brink of accomplishing something that we've not been able to do in the last 25 years, the last quarter of a century. this bill which we are about to send to the president reforms our drug distribution supply chain, making it more secure and safer for families. it puts us on a path to electronic interoperable tracing at the unit level for drugs. it also raises the bar for wholesale distributors around the country and weeds out bad actors who find loopholes in the
system to stockpile drugs and create shortages. this bill cannot come soon enough. mr. president, our colorado pharmacies fill over 60 million prescriptions every single year, and the coloradans who take these prescriptions, just like people all over the country, expect their medicine to be safe. and the sad fact is that given the current laws in place, we can't guarantee this. pharmacists cannot determine with any certainty where a drug has been and whether it has been secured and safely stored on its way to the pharmacy. right now, you can get more data from a bar code on a gallon of milk than you can from one bottle of aspirin two aisles over in the store. the normal chain moves drugs from the manufacturer to a wholesaler to a pharmacy. under the current patchwork of state laws, drugs travel back and forth across state lines among repackagers, wholesalers and pharmacies with no real oversight by anybody. the more times that a drug goes
back and forth, changes hands, the more opportunities criminals find to enter the system. and in the last decade, this lack of oversight has created an enormous gray market in the united states of america. companies can stockpile drugs that are high -- in high demand and sell them later at dramatically higher prices. hospitals in colorado are bombarded -- bombarded -- by daily calls and messages from various businesses around the country offering them drugs that are on the f.d.a. drug shortage list and unavailable through their contracted wholesaler. according to a recent study by premier alliance, which includes 30 colorado hospitals, sale prices of drugs that are in shortage are, on average, 650% higher than the contracted prices. these hospitals have no idea, absolutely no idea whether the businesses that are approaching them are reputable and how they can -- and how they can have supply of these drugs that are in shortage.
investigations into the gray market have shown that current law offers a huge incentive to make outrageous profits at the expense of patients, whether through selling and reselling or counterfeiting or tainting drugs. a little over a decade ago, criminals in florida made $46 million by counterfeiting 110,000 doses of epige 0en. these criminals sold the counterfeit drugs to pharmacies around the country. the f.d.a. recovered less than 10% of the counterfeit product. in 2009, nearly 130,000 vials of insulin, a temperature-sensitive drug to treat diabetes, were stolen and later found across the country and even in a national pharmacy chain. the f.d.a., which had been notified that patients who used some of the insulin were reporting poor control over their insulin levels, were able to recover less than 2% of these stolen drugs.
and just a few years ago, $75 million worth of drugs were stolen from an eli lilly warehouse and later found in south florida, becoming the largest drug heist in the country's history. and just this year, the f.d.a. notified the public about counterfeit evastin, a drug used to treat cancer which was being sold from a licensed wholesaler in tennessee. these stories should scare any person in any state who takes a prescription. but fortunately, the practical compromise that is before us today will give consumers and businesses around the country peace of mind. over the next decade, manufacturers, repackagers, wholesale distributors and pharmacies will form an electronic interoperable system to track and trace drugs at the unit level. the bar code on our pill bottles will soon tell us who has actually handled the medicine we take and give to our children. starting in 2015, mr. president, the f.d.a. will also know where
every drug wholesaler is located across the country and begin to ensure that all wholesalers meet a minimum national standard. mr. president, this legislation, after 25 years, is a model of what can be accomplished through hard work and pragmatism in the united states congress. this bipartisan effort has the support of business groups, such as pharma and bio, as well as consumer groups such as the pew charitable trust and many others. i cannot say enough about the leadership of chairman hank inand ranking member alexander in driving us to get con -- harkin and ranking member alexander in driving us to get a consensus. their commitment to track and trace as well as compounding sets an example that i wish could be replicated many times over. i want to thank senator frank fn and senator roberts for their leadership on the compounding part of this bill. and finally, i want to acknowledge the relentless -- and that's the only way to describe it -- the relentless
effort of senator richard burr. he's been a true advocate and an outstanding partner with me and my staff. his tireless efforts and that of his staff helped us move this legislation into law. and while we're on that top and to close, i want to thank all of the staff who have worked on this important legislation. and i'd ask to submit a list of their names and ask that they appear in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. bennet: and thank you, mr. president. and with that, i say, i hope that we get a strong show of support. i know we will on the floor of the senate for this bill, that we get it to the president's desk and that we restore a sense of safety about our pharmaceutical distribution chain. and with that, mr. president, i yield the floor. mr. leahy: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. leahy: mr. president, i realize the presiding officer is not allowed to respond but i also want to add my words to
those of the distinguished senator from colorado, that i'm delighted to see the acting president pro tempore in the -- in the chair. and, again, as i did the other day, welcome him to the senate. mr. president, more than 12 years after the terrorist attacks of september 11th, as we see our military presence in afghanistan winding down, it's time to take a hard look at our counterterrorism policy. we need to consider which of our policies are working and which, while perhaps well-intentioned when they were adopted in the highly charged weeks and months after 9/11, are not making us safer. and there's ample evidence the status quo is unsustainable. as recent revelations have made clear, we need a careful review of our surveillance activities. for example, this summer, many americans learned for the first time that section 215 of the
u.s.a. patriot act has for years been secretly interpreted to authorize the collection of americans' phone records on an unprecedented scale. despite the massive privacy intrusion of this program, the executive branch has not made the case that this program is actually uniquely valuable to protecting our national securi security. that's why i introduced the bipartisan u.s.a. freedom act with congressman sensenbrenner. we wanted to end this dragnet collection. we wanted to place appropriate safeguards on a wide range of government surveillance authorities. we also must close the detention facility at guantanamo bay. in the coming days, the senate's going to take up and debate the national defense authorization act for fiscal year 2014. now, that act contains many
provisions that are central to our national security and actually many that help our allies around the world. but among the most important are provisions that would help make it possible to close the facility at guantanamo. as long as guantanamo remains open, it doesn't protect us, it serves as a recruiting tool for terrorists. it needlessllessly siphons away critical national security dollars. but it discredits america's historic role as a global leader that defends human rights and the rule of law. as an american senator, i feel this is not the face of america i want the world to see. currently there's 164 individuals who remain detained at guantanamo. some of them have been there for more than a decade.
more than half, 84, have been cleared for transfer to another country, but efforts to do so have stalled largely due to irrationally, onerous restrictions imposed by congress. these unnecessary, counterproductive hurdles have made it all but impossible to close guantanamo. but they've also severely damaged our credibility when we criticize other governments for their use of indefinite detention. we used to be able to do that. now they look at us and say, "how can you speak?" provisions in the 2014 n.d.a. would ease these restrictions. now, they're incremental but they would streamline procedures for transferring detainees to other countries. and where appropriate, they would allow transfer to the united states for trial or detention.
they're commonsense changes. they're necessary if we're serious about putting an end to what i believe is an ugly chapter in our history. now, there are some who are going to come to the floor of this chamber over the next several days, they'll tell us how dangerous, how irresponsible it would be to close guantanamo. i would answer, the facts are simply not with them. the bottom line is that guantanamo hurts us, it does not help us. guantanamo does not make us safer. we're all committed, all of us in this body, to protecting the national security of the united states and the american people but guantanamo undermines these efforts. our national security, our military leaders have concluded that keeping guantanamo open is itself a risk to our national security. the facility continues to serve as a recruitment tool for terrorists. it weakens our alliances with
key international partners. guantanamo doesn't hold terrorists accountable. the military commission system for trying these detainees does not work. the federal courts have recently overturned two guantanamo convictions and opinions are actually going to prevent the military commission prosecutors from bringing conspiracy and material charges against detainees. that's a fact, incidentally, acknowledged by the lead military prosecutor at guantanamo. the charges, however, can be pursued in federal courts, in federal courts, where our prosecutors have a strong track record of obtaining long prison sentences against those who do us harm. since 9/11, federal courts have convicted more than 500 terrorism-related suspects and they are securely behind bars. you're not going to do it from
guantanamo. and guantanamo's also diverting scarce resources from critical national security efforts. at a time when the department of defense faces deep and ongoing cuts, most americans would be surprised to know what it costs to maintain guantanamo. it's about $450 million a year to house 164 individuals. we're spending $2,700,000 per detainee every year -- every year -- year in, year out. some have been there for more than a decade. $2.7 million. in federal prisons, which actually cost a lot to hold a prisoner, it's $80,000 a year, $2.7 million at guantanamo. $80,000 at our most secure
federal prisons. we've had hundreds of convicted terrorists in there. there's never been an escape. and despite the fact the pentagon rejected a request earlier this year to spend hundreds of millions of dollars more to overhaul the aging compound, house republicans included the spending in their version of the national defense authorization act. we c -- we can't get money for school lunches for our children, we can't get money for the women, infants, and children program, but we can continues hundreds of millions of dollars more for guantanamo for something that makes us feel safer. our priorities as americans are upside-down. the money, for example, is squandered on this long-failed experiment would be better served helping disabled veterans returning home for more and soldiers preparing to defend our nation in the future. we don't have enough money to do that. we have enough money to keep guantanamo open. come on.
this waste has to end. guantanamo has undermined our reputation as a champion of human rights. countries that respect the rule of law and human rights do not walk away prisoners indefinitely without charge or trial, no matter how much damage they did to us. we condemn authoritarian states to carry out such practices. we shouldn't tolerate themselves, even for our worst enemies. we are a better people than that. the status quo of guantanamo is untenable. i appreciate president obama's renewed vow to shutter this unnecessary, expensive and counterproductive prison, but in order for the president's plan to be successful, congress has to do its part. we have to pass a commonsense -- the commonsense provisions in the national defense authorization act. so i thank senator levin for his leadership on this issue as
chairman of the senate armed services committee. i stand solidly with senators feinstein, durbin and others who long recognized it was in our national security interests to close guantanamo. it's the fiscally responsible thing to do. it is the morally responsible thing to do. above all, it will actually make our country safer. for over a decade, indefinite detention of prisoners at guantanamo has contradicted our most basic principles of justice, degraded our international standing, has harmed our national security. it is shameful that we're still debating this issue. the status quo is unacceptable. close guantanamo. mr. president, i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. reid: mr. president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the call of the quorum be terminated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: what is the matter before the body? the presiding officer: the question is on the motion to proceed. all in favor say aye. those opposed, no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 236, h.r. 2034, an act to amend the federal food, drug and cosmetic act and so forth, and for other purposes. mr. reid: mr. president, i have an amendment at the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: the senator from nevada, mr. reid, proposes an amendment numbered 2033. mr. reid: i ask for the yeas and nays on that amendment. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. mr. reid: i have a second-degree
amendment at the desk. the presiding officer: the yeas and nays are ordered. the clerk will report the second amendment. the clerk: the senator from nevada, mr. reid, proposes an amendment numbered 2034 to amendment numbered 2033. mr. reid: i have a motion to commit h.r. 3204, but it has instructions, and that is at the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the motion. the clerk: the senator from nevada, mr. reid, moves to commit the bill to the committee on health, education, labor and pensions, with instructions to report back with the following amendment numbered 2035. mr. reid: i ask for the yeas and nays on that motion. the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second? there appears to be. the yeas and nays are ordered. mr. reid: i now have an amendment to the instructions which is at the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the amendment. the clerk: the senator from nevada, mr. reid, proposes an amendment numbered 2036 to the instructions of the motion to commit h.r. 3204. mr. reid: i ask for the yeas and nays on the amendment.
the presiding officer: is there a sufficient second. there appears to be. the yeas and nays are ordered. mr. reid: i have a second-degree amendment at the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the second-degree amendment. the clerk: the senator from nevada, mr. reid proposes amendment 2037 to amendment numbered 2036. mr. reid: i move to proceed to continuing resolution to consider calendar number 381. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion to proceed. all in favor say aye. those, no. the ayes appear to have it. the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. the clerk will report the nomination. the clerk: nomination, the judiciary, robert leon wilkins of the district of columbia to be united states circuit judge for the district of columbia circuit. mr. reid: i send a cloture motion to the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk
will report the cloture motion. the clerk: we the undersigned senators in accordance with rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate hereby move to bring to a close the debate on the nomination of robert leon wilkins of the district of columbia to be united states circuit judge for the district of columbia circuit signed by 17 senators as follows -- reid of nevada, leahy, udall of new mexico, begich, schatz, franken, boxer, durbin, coons, baldwin, stabenow, cardin, whitehouse, murray, mikulski, gillibrand, harkin. mr. reid: i ask the mandatory quorum under rule 22 under rule 22 be waived. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. reid: i move to proceed to legislative session. the presiding officer: the question is on the motion. all in favor say aye. those opposed. the ayes appear to have it.
the ayes do have it. the motion is agreed to. mr. reid: so, mr. president, if i understand h.r. 3804 is now the pending matter? the presiding officer: the senator is correct. mr. reid: i have a cloture motion with respect to the bill which is at the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the cloture motion. the clerk: we the undersigned senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate hereby move to bring to a close the debate on h.r. 3204 an act to amend the federal food, drug and cosmetic act and so forth and for other purposes. signed by 17 senators as follows --. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the reading of the names be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the mandatory quorum under rule 22 be waived. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection, so ordered. mr. reid: i move to proceed to calendar number 991, s. 1197. the presiding officer: the clerk will report. the clerk: the senator from nevada, mr. reid moves to
proceed to consider calendar number 91, s. 11.97 a bill to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2014 for military activities of the department of defense and so forth and for other purposes. mr. reid: i have a cloture motion at the desk. the presiding officer: the clerk will report the cloture motion. the clerk: cloture motion, we the undersigned senators in accordance with the provisions of rule 22 of the standing rules of the senate hereby move to bring to a close the debate on if motion to proceed to calendar number 91, s. 1197 a bill to authorize appropriations for fiscal year 2014 for military activities of the department of defense and so forth and for other purposes. signed by 17 senators as follows --. mr. reid: mr. president, i ask unanimous consent that the reading of the names be waived. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: i didn't ask, i should have done that, mr. president, it was my mistake. i ask unanimous consent the
mandatory quorum under rule 22 be waived. the presiding officer: is there objection? without objection. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the ?aths senate proceed to a period of morning business until 5:00 p.m. with senators permitted to speak therein for ten minutes each. the presiding officer: is there objection? no objection, so ordered. mr. reid: mr. reid: i have 12 unanimous consent requests for committees to meet during today's session, they have the approval of senator mcconnell and me, i ask unanimous consent they be agreed to and printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection, so ordered. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. roberts: mr. president, i come to the floor today to speak in support of the drug quality and security act, h.r. 3204.
getting this bill to where it is today -- and i thank the leader for just making that possible, along with our minority leader -- this has been a long and sometimes very difficult road, one in which i have been working on for over a decade. yes, ten years. this is an issue that hit far too close to home in kansas. several years ago, a pharmacist in kansas city, robert courtney, was found to be diluting cancer drugs for his patients. unfortunately, over 4,000 patients were affected before authorities could stop him. senator kit bond at that time and myself, we worked together, to hold the first health education, labor pensions committee on
pharmacy -- pharmacy compounding. since that time, i have continued my interest in the compounding-related issues. unfortunately, last september over a year ago, the tragic meningitis outbreak began, this outbreak is the result of contaminated compounded medications produced by the new england compounding center, and of the 751 people who became ill, 64 people lost their lives. many of those who became ill are still suffering, and have experienced painful relapses in their condition. and, unfortunately, that isn't the only occurrence in the last ten years. without proper safeguards and clear authority, i fear that these tragedies would only continue. we acknowledged then that we had to buckle down and really get something done.
since that time, i have been working with my colleagues to draft the pending legislation before this body, the drug quality and security act, with the desire to protect patients and improve regulation of the pharmacy compounding industry and i think that we have finally achieved what we all intended from the beginning, which is a bipartisan, bicameral product that is supported by a majority of the stakeholders groups and a variety of those groups. this legislation has the support of the pharmacists led by the national community pharmacist association, the farm pharmaceuticals a ocean -- pharmacy association, and the industry groups like the pharmaceutical distribution security alliance. in fact, this is quite a long
list. i will not take the senate atime to go over that list but i ask unanimous consent but i ask unanimous consent this list be submitted at this point in the record in its entirety. the presiding officer: without objection, sir. mr. roberts: thank you, mr. president. title 1 of the drug quality and security act addresses the oversight of compounding pharmacy and title 2 provides a mechanism for securing our pharmaceutical drug supply chain. together, we are making patients safer and ensuring that they can better trust the drugs that they take. this took a significant amount of time and effort. and i especially want to thank chairman harkin, ranking member alexander, senators burr, bennet, and franken, for sticking with it. a true bipartisan effort. and personally i want to thank my staffer, jennifer boyer, for her determined dedication
and the many hours of work to get this job done. in september, with the leadership of mr. upton and mr. waxman, in the other body, this legislation was passed by the house by a voice vote. i'm hoping we can see a similar outcome in the senate. i urge my colleagues to support this legislation and encourage its swift passage and the signature by the president of the united states. mr. president, i yield back. mr. roberts: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from kansas. mr. roberts: after careful
mr. reid: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: i ask unanimous consent the call of the quorum be terminated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. reid: it's my understanding there's an order in effect that we would recess, mr. president, at 1:00? mr. reid: that's correct.the prs correctment mr. reid: i would ask that time be advanced to now and we recess now. the presiding officer: without t objection. the senate stands in recess
able to have the security of affordable health care, and that's why i feel so strongly about fixing it. my first and foremost obligation to the american people to make sure they can get what is there if we can just get the darn web site work and smooth this thing out and allow them to take advantage of tax credits and give them a bretter deal. i feel an obligation to everybody who supported this effort. when we don't do a good job on the rollout, we're letting them down. and i don't like doing that. so, my commitment to them is, we're going just keep on doing better every day until we get it done. and in terms of the impact on me, i think to some extent i
addressed it when i talked to julie, there's going to be up and downs during the course of my presidency, and i think i said early on when i was running, i'm not a perfect man and i will not be a perfect president. but i'll wake up every single day, working as hard as i can, on behalf of americans out there, from every walk of life, who are working hard, meeting their responsibilities, but esteems are struggling because of the way the system works isn't giving them fair shot, and that pledge i haven't broken. that commitment, that promise, continues to be -- continues to hold. the promise i wouldn't be perfect, number one, but also the promise that as long as i will be in the office,'ll work as hard as i can to make things
better for folks, and what that means specifically in the healthcare arena, we can't go tack to the status quo. right now everybody is perfectly focused on us not dog a job with the rollout. and i get it. there were times we were -- this one is deserved. it's on us. but we can't lose sight of the fact that the status quo before the affordable care act was not working at all. the healthcare system had been working fine and everybody had high-quality health insurance at affordable prices wouldn't have made at it priority. we wouldn't have been fighting this hard to get it done. which is why, when i see sometimes folks on capitol hill,
and republicans in particular, who have been suggesting, repeal, repeal, get rid of this thing, i keep on asking, what is it you want to do? are you suggesting the status quo was working? because it wasn't. everybody node. not in the individual market and certainly not working for the 41 million people who didn't have health insurance. and so what we did was we chose a path that was the least disruptive, to try to finally make sure that health care is treatmented in this country like every other advanced country, it's not some privilege that just a certain portion of people can have but somebody that everybody has some confidence about, and we didn't go far left and choose an approach that would have been much more disruptive. we didn't adopt the more conservative proposals that
would have been much more disruptive. we tried to choose a way that is built off the existing system. but is it complicated, it is hard, but i make no apologies for us taking this on. because somebody sooner or later had to do it. i do make apologies for not having executed better over the last several month. >> you think this wail affect your able to do things like immigration reform. >> when it comes to immigration reform, there is no reason for us not to do immigration reform, and we already got strong bipartisan support for immigration reform out of the senate. you've got -- i met with a number of traditionally very conservative clergy who are deep
committed to immigration reform. the business community is entirely behind immigration reform so you have constituents who have usually much more leaned towards republicans who are behind his; so if people are using this not to do immigration reform, there's always an excuse, we have run out of time, this is hard, the list goes on and on. i work under the assumption that people should want to do the right thing, and when you have an issue that would strengthen borders, make sure that the legal immigration system works the way it's suppose it to. that would go -- learn english and get to the back of the line, but ultimately join fully.
i'm going to keep on pushing. aim going to have to do work to rebuild confidence around our initiatives? >> yes. >> part of this job is the things that go right, you don't write about. the things that go wrong get prominent attention, and that's not unique to me. we're going to get this done. thank you, everybody. >> president obama speaking at the white house for almost an hour on one of the underlying messages, among many, concerning the healthcare law was that people who like their health insurance plan can keep it at least through 2014, a policy
change to the affordable care act announced by the president today in an extended news conference. it was expected just to be brief comments, and went almost an hour. we're going to take some time and open up our phone lines and more to hear from you and your reaction on what you're hearing from the president and the proposed change in the policy. the numbers are: was an hour-long or so news conference, some of which we carried here on c-span 2 and some on c-span 3 and we'll show it to you later on the c-span network. but some of the questions by reporters, here is a weis tweet
saying, facing pressure, obama allows americans to keep their health care plans, and from cbs, question asked by major garrett, the president saying, quote issue was not informed directly the web site would not be working the way it was supposed to. the president in response to a question from major garrett of cbs. let's goo to the calls and go to san pedro, california. nicholas, democratic line. good afternoon. >> i. >> caller: how he apologize for -- about obamacare and people losing their plan, but -- and he is going to fix that, but for me and my father, he enrolled into obamacare and was pleased by it, and so as to
millions of others that it's working for tons of americans, but look at the numbers. the numbers are low. not as high as expected, from the white house. but it's working for tons of americans, working for me. i had like a really bad surgery i had to go, and if it wasn't for obamacare i wouldn't be able to get insurance. i would have to pay $3,000 or more on premiums and now i'm just so happy by obamacare, i know it's working. so it's just -- i believe in trusting the president, he is going to get this done. it's a long row ahead. >> "the wall street journal" reported california signed up 36d the california signed up more than the 36 other states who don't have exchanges over the past month or so. california with its own state exchange. mary is on our republican line in stanford, illinois.
>> caller: yes. he promised that all of the people that already had their private insurance, like all of us independent farmers and ranchers, that we could keep our policies for one year extension, even if we got a cancellation notice. and then in another breath he stated that, it is still up to the individual states to have the option of reinstating the old policies. so, therefore, he has lied again to the american people, who already had their policies in place that got cancellation notices. >> candy agrees with mary: obama's read my lips moment, she tweets, if you like your plan, you can keep your plan, if you like your doctor, keep your doctor, others say: regardless of what congress does, sums up his proof to many issues. ted cruz was right, obamacare is a big hot mess and americans don't want it. and pam robinson wants the government to look broken and
want zero approval rating. jay in nashville, on our independent line. hi, jay. >> caller: hello. >> you're on the air, goo ahead. >> yes, i was wondering if there had been consideration for something like medicare u.s.a. for the states that are not covering the medicaid people, rather than having to go through an insurance plan? >> host: what do you have in tennessee. >> tennessee did not sign up. >> host: tennessee has its own state plan? >> . no we didn't do anything. >> let's hear from chicago on the democratic line. >> caller: i appreciate c-span and have the whole press conference rather than having it parsed out by the media. president obama basically apologized for this debacle and nobody is perfect. he has taken responsibility, and i don't think there's anything more that he can do.
if you have more -- administration like kathleen sebelius do the same, i think the american people would give them more leeway to fix the problem and get things working correctly. >> host: president obama departs the white house shortly, heading to cleveland. he will be speaking about the economy. visiting a steel manufacturing company in cleveland. then off to philadelphia for some fundraising, democratic fundraising. francis is in philadelphia on our republican line. what do you think about what the president said? >> caller: i'm curious about the reporting, using the words, the president will allow." the president can't allow anything. he is not a dictator, and the insurance commissioners and the insurance companies still have a lot to say about this, and it's obvious what this is. it's an attempt to